Former Manchester United star Juan Mata is on the brink of securing himself a new club, after agreeing personal terms over a free-transfer switch.
The veteran star, 34, has been without a club since leaving Old Trafford at the end of last season. He was a hugely-popular figure during his time at Old Trafford and enjoyed a special connection with supporters throughout his eight-year stay. However, he reportedly rejected a background role with the Red Devils in order to extend his playing career.
Indeed, he was initially linked with a return to his native Spain. The likes of Real Betis and former club Valencia were both linked with moves. Ultimately, though, a move back to LaLiga did not prevail, leaving Mata to consider his options.
One of those was reportedly Leeds United. Indeed, Spanish paper AS claimed earlier this summer that Mata was willing to make a switch to Elland Road his main priority this summer.
That would have proved a hugely-controversial move. Leeds and Manchester United are fierce rivals and a move across the Pennines – albeit as a free agent – would have soured his Red Devils legacy somewhat.
They claimed Leeds director of football Victor Orta knows Mata’s father and agent well and was working on his signing at Elland Road.
A portion of Leeds fans were on board with the deal too. Citing his experience and ability to find a key pass, his signing was seen as someone to give the side Premier League experience, potentially off the bench and late in games.
United supporters, however, have nothing to fear with reports of Leeds’ interest proving inaccurate.
Juan Mata next club will be in Turkey
Mata, however, has now found himself a new club and it one that will not go down well with Leeds fans. Indeed, as per AS, Mata is currently in Istanbul preparing to hold a medical with Galatasaray.
He has already agreed personal terms with the Super Lig club and will reportedly sign an initial one-year deal. That may be extended into a second season if Mata proves a success.
The Turkish transfer window only closes on Thursday September 8, though as a free transfer that could have been done after this date anyway.
Galatasaray chiefs have made a series of high-profile signings this season to try and rectify the team’s struggles. They finished a lowly 13th last season, marking their lowest-ever finish since the inception of the Super Lig in 1959.
Galatasaray have already signed Belgium star Dries Mertens and Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira from Arsenal this summer. Highly-talented right-back Leo Dubois also arrived from Lyon.
Mata will not be the only signing either for Galatasaray on deadline day.
They are also planning to announce the signing of PSG forward Mauro Icardi. The Argentine star has fallen down the pecking order at the Ligue 1 giants. He will reportedly join Gala on a one-year loan deal with the option to buy.
A final swansong for Mata
Old father time clearly caught up with Mata during his final season in the Premier League. However, he may find the pace more to his liking in Turkey. And restoring Galatasaray to their former glories will be seen as a big challenge.
Playing alongside the likes of Mertens, Torreira and Icardi, they are certainly going big in their rebuilding process.
Juan Mata, undoubtedly, remains a hugely talented player. With a keen eye for a threaded throughball, his talent will undoubtedly shine through in the Super Lig.
His move will ensure his Manchester United legacy also remains intact. A move to Leeds United would not have gone down well. Similarly – and not that its relevant any longer – but a move to Gala will not sit well with Leeds fans.
They have an extremely bitter relationship with the Turkish club following the horrific murder of two of their supporters before a UEFA CUp semi-final there in 2020.